Franchise Experiences

If you are going there to dance, then do that. It isn't a freaking Disney World Vacation after all. I mean if you go to Disney World, do you expect Mickey to shuttle you around and be your tour guide? Heck no.
SDsalsaguy said:
Ok DancingMommy, but but now tell us how you really feel! :lol: :lol: :lol:
Do you *really* want to know??? Cuz I can GO ON AND ON on that one....

I've seen both sides of the fence on this one and I do have an opinion. :wink:

OK, so here's the magic formula for keeping comp costs reasonable for the student.....

1. Determine number of students attending
2. Count number of entries/student
3. Determine what days each student will be competing
4. Is the pro going to compete with a pro partner?

if "yes", and the pro heats are danced on the same day as same of the heats as any of the students, delete that day as a teacher expense or at minimum only charge for the actual time you will be focused on your students. You'll be there anyway and it isn't fair to charge students for time that you are using to pursue your goals as a pro.

if "no" or "yes" and the pro heats are NOT danced on the same day as same of the heats as any of the students, add that day as a teacher expense.

5. Determine which packages/travel arrangements work best for which students. If a student is only competing on one day, then don't have them buy more package than they need. They'll thank you for it!

Sometimes (especially at local comps) students are only going for a few hours and don't care to get all the "stuff" - programs, etc. and don't need a hotel. I know for us at Sunshine State in '01, we actually got our hotel using the Florida Resident discount. It ended up being CHEAPER than the comp rate. :) And never underestimate the power of places like

Here is the most complicated example I can come up with:

You have 4 students going to a comp that lasts 3 days.
Your students are competing all 3 days, but only 1 is competing the full 3 days, one is competing 2 days & the other 2 are competing 1 day.
You are competing with your pro partner on 2 of those days.
You are one very busy pro!

On a grid it looks like this:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Student 1 Student 1 Student 1
Student 2 Student 2
Student 3 Student 3
Student 4
Pro Comp Pro Comp

Student 1 is not dancing that many entries, but they are spread out.
Student 2 is dancing a ton of one-dance events as well as scholarships.
Student 3 is dancing scholarships and solo exhibitions.
Student 4 is only dancing one dance events.
You (the pro) are dancing rising star one day and open the next.

How to split "expenses":
Day one should be split evenly by 3 since there are 3 students.
Day two should be split evenly by 5 since there are 3 students and you and partner will be there competing anyway.
Day three should be split evenly by 4 since there are 2 students and you and partner will be there competing anyway.

Only on day one should the pro in question think about getting reimbursed for food or hotel since they would already be there in the first place for days 2 & 3. Days 2 & 3 are deductible business expenses for the pro.

Students should be responsible for their own food/lodging if *not* on a package. Pros shouldn't mark up the package prices as they are already large enough as it is. If you want to charge something, charge for the actual time that you will be with the students dancing with them (IE: per entry surcharge). A typical reaonable surcharge per entry would be about $10. After all, how much do you get paid for an hour lesson? Say $60/hr. How long are you dancing that one entry? Maybe 2 minutes? Figure that you have on deck time, practice time, whatever, you can't charge a whole day's pay to every student who is going. They *will* compare notes.

For students going as spectators, don't even think about upcharging!!! Shame on you if you do! My husband ran into this once. The studio wanted to charge him $700 for one night accomodation including spectating NOT including food. He said NO WAY! I know for a fact that other teachers at the same studio were offering the same "deal" for $500. Shame shame shame.

I know this is long and probably doesn't make any sense, but I have a spreadsheet somewhere from when I used to teach... Maybe if I can find it, I'll post it...


Well-Known Member
DancingMommy said:
In fact, most "studios" are pretty much run "like franchises" but without benefit of the network of coaches etc. These particular studios really suck as far as their teachers and the quality of their students' learning.

That being said, I'm aware that NDCA has passed a ruling that all registered pros have to get "certified" through a member org by a certain date, or their NDCA membership will not be renewed. I'm hoping that will alleviate *some* of the bad teacher problem we have down here (at least as far as comps are concerned). Hopeful, but not really expecting it to do much.
Fortunately, not all independent studios are run like franchises, at least in terms of the contracts, etc. I'm currently studying at two independent studios in Orlando, and it's a totally different story there. Fortunately, because my trust of dance teachers was spread pretty thin after my franchise experiences.

Also, did you know that AMI and FADS are both NDCA-approved member organizations? So they can basically certify their own teachers from within. So, as you say, some of thebad teacher problem can be eliminated, but some will likely remain. :(


Well-Known Member
DancingMommy said:
[Here's the deal... Up until now, competitions in general have been <ahem> difficult to know about unless you were "in the know" or had a contact that was. Now, with the advent of places like AccessDance where comps list everything on the website - including order forms, etc and *prices*!!! Even an average joe can go about ordering tickets etc without paying the usual markup that studios charge. Also, organizers are starting to offer "local" or "no room" packages for attendees who could otherwise make alternate arrangements for food and lodging that are more budget-wise.
Oh Dancing Mommy. I'm going to love having you around! :D Yes, and is another place to get that sort of information. Some promoters are more forthcoming with information than others, though. Some have prices and everything listed, some, you have to be a registered pro to access the information -- so it's go through a pro, or you're out of luck.
pygmalion said:
Some have prices and everything listed, some, you have to be a registered pro to access the information -- so it's go through a pro, or you're out of luck.
Or "former pro" - hint hint. 8)

FYI, I still get all the info from most of the comps going on (even though I don't *ask* for it). It's the only direct mail I like, LOL.

Anyone want comp info, come to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :p
Boy a lot of opinions on this topic !!
I used to work for AMI as a manager. my wife used to work at FADS. Now we own an independent studio. Most of the independent owners started at one of the franchises. So there is not really any difference between the two. Both have to follow the same laws. The ballroom industry was regulated by the FTC in the 1970's, due to unethical practices by the franchises. This is where the contracts came from. No school is doing you a favor by having you sign a contract... it's the law.
In the state of Ohio the legal limit for dance lessons is 200 lessons or $12,000.00 which ever comes first. These are known as 'Blue Sky 'laws and change from state to state. In Ill. the limit I belive is only $3000.00 so the limit varies a lot. In Ohio any thing sold over $300.00 has to be on a contract. My best advice is don't be a victim. Know the law, call your Att. General's office in your state for your laws and if the studio has any backgroud of unfavorable business practices.
To get info. about any competition simply write or e-mail the organizer and tell them you are an Ameteur couple. They will send you the entire package cost and all. Things have changed over the years and the information is there if you want it. (If you tell them are part of a studio they will send the info. to the studio)


Well-Known Member
Yes. This topic generated a lot of discussion, didn't it? 8)

The vast majority of the independent studios here offer lessons on a pay-as-you-go basis, with no contracts at all, just personal commitments. That seems to work very well. Only the franchise studios still do the long term contracts, and the contracts do seem to be weighted in favor of the studios, rather than the students.
Okay, this link is hitting the nail on the head.

I am very unhappy with my AM studio because I believe the owner is marking competitions up too much. But, how do I find this out?

I think it was DancingMommy (thanks for all your rant!!!) that said to contact the organizers. Can that be done for an AM event too? Will they give me (a little amateur) that info? I'm thinking probably not.
Just looked back up at posts and saw TwoDance said to contact organizers.

Anyone with any info on this i'd appreciate hearing what a AM event runs on the average, for example the Dance-O-Ramas.

I have been quoted a average price of $2,500.00 and that is without airfare.

How does that sound to anyone from the franchise world?


Staff member
Hi dream always.... I've never competed within the franchise system so can't speak to how typical that price sounds. As far as I can tell, however, the prices for most *in franchise* events probably isn't subject to all that much fluctuation. This doesn't, of course, mean that there isn't a lot of mark up in the prices, just that your studio probably isn't too much different from any others.

Just my $.02...


New Member
The franchise events are significantly more than other events. At my franchise studio a competition runs about $3500CDN ($2500US). Non franchise events are much cheaper (about $800 depending on many things) and here is why:

1. With the franchises you have to bring along all the instructors, so you're paying their way (hotel room, travel, salary, food, etc.) The reason all the staff go along is that it's a training session for them. Non-franchise events you don't have to pay for someone else's rooms and meals, just yours.

2. You're stuck with them...i.e. you get a hotel room for 3 or so days and and you eat, dance and socialize with them. There's no time for anything else. Also, since it's sold as a package picking your room and own meals is out of the question. Non-franchise you can pick your own hotel and eat where you choose.

3. I'm not sure of the cost of 'heats' but in non-franchise you pick your own and generally it's $10 to $20 per heat. With franchises you never know the cost but I've heard it runs $40 to $80 per heat. This may be specific to Pro-Am couples.

4. Also, the higher costs represent the judges fees. The last comp I attended they had: Cher Rutherford, Alain Doucet and Anik Jolicoeur (Canadian Champs), Jean Marc Generoux and France Mousseau. They judged and did some showcase performances for the two nights. These people don't come cheap so you pay with an increased entrance fee.


Well-Known Member
Hmm. That $2500 sounds about right. I paid less than half of that, but mine was a one-day comp, with no hotel stay required, and involved only one pro, so there was no overhead for all the teachers involved.

Actually, DancingMommy may have more good input on the actual costs, since she has access to the pro-only wholesale package info. And the cost to the student may vary from studio to studio, tango. The dance pros get a wholesaler's package and calculate their own markup. Some of the horror stories I've heard lead me to believe that the markup can be much higher at some studios than at others, so make sure you're working with people you trust.

Do you have a particular comp in mind, tango?


New Member
The franchise comps are only available to students at the franchise. They're actually quite small (there's only six franchise's in the province) so I think the markup is slightly higher, but not unreasonable for two people. They do take care of you though... they haul your suitecases to the rooms, get you for dinner, provide free drinks, act like your friend and generally make sure you have a good time.

The non-franchise event was the Falls Premier Ball in Niagra Falls, Ontario ( I didn't attend, I was busy getting married. It's more reasonable for budget minded people since you can pick and choose your lodgings and where to eat, etc. etc.

I have a partner so I don't need to bring along a pro and their rental fees, which is nice, but I would also like to have a coach for these events.


Well-Known Member
dreamalways said:
Okay, this link is hitting the nail on the head.

I am very unhappy with my AM studio because I believe the owner is marking competitions up too much. But, how do I find this out?

I think it was DancingMommy (thanks for all your rant!!!) that said to contact the organizers. Can that be done for an AM event too? Will they give me (a little amateur) that info? I'm thinking probably not.
Hi dreamalways! I'm not sure how I missed this earlier. As an amateur, you probably can't get the information you want directly. Most comp promoters keep that info secret, as a courtesy to the dance pros. Your best bet is to befriend a pro and get a look at the wholesaler package.

And are you talking about in-franchise comps, or publicly promoted comps that are attended by people at your franchise studio. If it's a within-franchise comp you're talking about, I doubt you'll ever get the info you want.


Well-Known Member
Okay. I just googled dance-o-rama. It's a two or three day, within-franchise, AMI, competition. I seriously doubt you're going to get any inside info from the organizers. The best you can hope for is to get the low down from members of a discussion forum like this one. I wish I could help, but I have no experience with AMI. Sorry.


Well-Known Member
Now you folks have me thinking again. What's the value of these Dance-o-ramas? Are they respected in the competitive dance world? Or are they just an activity that is recognized within a particular franchise?

The franchise I was once affilaited with had periodic studio to studio "competitions," but they were more fun events than anything else. I didn't view them as actual competitive experience, at all.

Thoughts, anyone?


Well-Known Member
I'm looking into this myself, dreamalways. From what I understand, it's a lot less expensive to enter as an amateur, because you don't have to pay for the pro's time spent.

Here's an interesting side note: My current coach told me the other day, "I'd love to dance pro-am with you, but I really encourage you to attend the dance activities. Maybe you can find an amateur partner." That's how I knew he was a good and honest guy. :wink:

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